‘We will not balance the books on the backs of the poorest people in the world’: Understanding Conservative Party Strategy on International Aid



The decision of the Conservative-dominated coalition to ring-fence international development spending has been, given the economic environment, one of most intriguing decisions of the new government. Recognising the relative neglect of academic work on Conservative policy towards international development, the article seeks to provide an explanation for its new-found prioritisation. In doing so, the article suggests that it can be attributed to four possible influences: that it can be tied to the process of modernisation and brand decontamination of the Conservatives; that it is a consequence of the personal commitment of key elites such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Andrew Mitchell; that it is by-product of the perceived success of the Department for International Development under New Labour, which made subsuming it within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a non-viable (and expensive) option; and that protecting the international aid budget was actually in the British national interest.